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Posted by on May 9, 2014 in Australian | 0 comments

Kapa Haka – Indegenous Maori Culture Performance Art, New Zealand

Kapa Haka – Indegenous Maori Culture Performance Art, New Zealand

Kapa haka - or traditional Maori performing arts - forms a powerful and highly visual part of the New Zealand cultural experience.

The term ‘kapa haka’ refers to an extensive range of Maori performing arts combining stance, posture, movement and expression to form a single whole. Kapa haka is really a powerful channel of self-pride and identity for the Maori people, and therefore has gained a popular following in recent years. Kapa Haka is definitely the term used for your Traditional Maori Performing Arts. Unlike other indigenous dance forms, kapa haka is different in the truth that the performers must sing, dance, have expression in addition to movement all combined into each item. Kapa Haka could be viewed as sign language, as each action features a meaning, which ties along with the words. For instance, if the hand is by the ear, this could probably tie in with the term whakarongo meaning to listen. For example, Te Matatini – the national indigenous maori culture performing competition for adult groups – attracts an audience of tens of thousands towards the stage during a period of four days. And as Te Matatini gets televised, increasing numbers of New Zealanders are actually exposed to and participating in kapa haka.

History of Indigenous Māori Cultural Performance Art

Kapa Haka is indigenous traditional performing art in maori culture. Historically songs (waiata) were sung solo, in unison or in the octave and included lullabies (oriori), love songs (waitata aroha) and laments (waiata tangi).It had been traditional to terminate a speech having a song and a few of the smaller, traditional wind instruments utilized by Maori were sung into providing a distinctive sound. The poi provided a rhythmic accompaniment to waiata.

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Indigenous maori culture in new zealand

Kapa Haka – Maori performing art

In indigenous maori culture of new zealand, Kapa haka methods to stand consecutively or rank (kapa) and dance (haka), and unlike other indigenous dance forms performers must combine song, dance, expression and movement in each item.Traditional and contemporary adaptations of waiata (song), poi dance, haka as well as other activities are carried out by cultural groups or individuals in a choice of formal or informal settings, on marae, at schools, or kapa haka festivals.

Te Matatini festival

The national kapa haka festival is referred to as Te Matatini meaning ‘the many faces’.The 2009 Te Matatini festival was located in Tauranga within the Bay of Plenty, North Island from 19 – 22 February. Held every a couple of years, Te Matatini is definitely the world’s largest celebration of cultural Maori performing arts and attracts a lot more than 40,000 people from throughout Nz.

Multi-faceted performance in maori culture

Te Matatini teams have to perform six disciplines in their performance piece – whakaeke (a choreographed entry), moteatea (traditional chant), poi (raupo ball swung around the end of the flax cord), waiata-a-ringa (action song), haka and whakawatea. They need to perfect every discipline inside a polished 25-minute performance.

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Kapa Haka - Indegenous Maori Culture Performance Art, New Zealand

Maori cultural Kapa Haka Dance, New Zealand

The national competition, a highlight from the Maori cultural events calendar, was inaugurated in 1972.Over four days, the viewers experiences the very best Maori performing art Nz provides from your synchronised, elegant movements from the women performing the poi towards the unrestrained ferocity from the male haka.

Forms of kapa Haka

Throughout a kapa haka performance you’ll experience a variety of compositions, from chants and choral singing to graceful action songs and ferocious war dances. Many performances include skilled demonstrations of traditional weaponry.


Inside a waiata-a-ringa or action songs, the lyrics are backed up by symbolic hand movements. The performers flutter their hands quickly, a movement called wiri, which could symbolise shimmering waters, heat waves or perhaps a breeze moving the leaves of the tree.

Indigenous maori culture of new zealand

Kapa Haka performing art


Poi is a kind of dance where each performer skilfully twirls one or more poi (ball on the chord) in perfect unison with the others. Sudden direction changes are achieved by striking the ball on the hand or any other part of the body, and the noise creates a percussive rhythm. Poi dancers are generally women and an experienced performance will strongly convey a sense of grace, beauty and charm.


Haka are war dances with loud chanting, strong hand movements, foot stamping and thigh slapping. Performers may incorporate traditional weapons, like taiaha (spear-like weapons) and patu (clubs) within their haka.


Pukana or facial expressions are an essential element of Maori performance. They assist emphasise a reason for a song or haka, and demonstrate the performer’s ferocity or passion. For ladies, pukana involves opening your eyes wide and jutting out their tattood chin.

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